Boss of Doncaster Rovers' rivals Lincoln makes transfer admission as Ipswich, Wigan, Charlton, Sunderland, Oxford and Sheffield Wednesday believe 'this is their year'
And he admitted it’s making his job harder of attracting players of a certain quality.
Both Ipswich and Wigan have already begun the process of building squads which they hope will be capable of winning promotion back to the Championship.
The Tractor Boys have already snapped up Wes Burns (Fleetwood) and Lee Evans (Wigan), with Charlton keeper Ben Amos the latest player to be linked with a move to Portman Road.
The Latics, meanwhile, have already added Blues duo Jack Whatmough and Tom Naylor to their ranks, along with former Ipswich winger Gwion Edwards.
Oxford are also reportedly operating with a bigger budget, while Shrewsbury also appear ready to give it a go following the arrival of former Premier League winger Elliott Bennett and a failed attempt to land Whatmough.
Charlton also beat Portsmouth to the signature of Jayden Stockley despite the Fratton Park outfit reportedly offering the striker wages of around £5,500 per week.
Lincoln have so far been quiet in the transfer window as Appleton takes stock after the Imps’ play-off final defeat at the hands of Blackpool.
Additional investment in the Sincil Bank outfit was revealed last week, with American Harvey Jabara becoming a nine-per-cent shareholder.
However, Appleton insists he’ll continue to act smart when it comes to recruitment and work closely with Premier League and Championship clubs in utilising some of their emerging talent.
He told Lincolnshire Live: “It (the amount of spending) does surprise me because the impression I get and what I’m hearing is that not a lot of money is being spent at Championship level at the minute.
“But, for some crazy reason, all of sudden in League One there’s a few quid being spent.
“There are a lot of big clubs in the league, the likes of Sunderland, Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Portsmouth, Oxford, to a degree, and Rotherham, coming up and down as they do.
“There are a lot of clubs who are really going for it and see this season as their year.”
Appleton’s success with the Imps last season was aided by the key loan arrivals of Alex Palmer (West Brom), Timothy Eyoma (Spurs), Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest) and Morgan Rogers (Manchester City).
They helped the Imps claims a surprise fifth-place finish and a play-off place.
And it’s a route Appleton will be keen to explore again ahead of next season.
He added: “It’s very difficult for lots of reasons. I’ve seen some of the movement that’s happened already with some of the bigger clubs who’ve had an injection of cash. They’ve moved on certain signings very quickly.
“You hear on the grapevine what people are paying, salaries and stuff like that.
“The first impression I get is that there is a lot of money being spent at our level which makes it very difficult to get certain players of high quality.
“What we’ve had to do, and what we will do, is continue in a similar vein to last year, where we’ll build up relationships with some bigger clubs – and we’ve already got some great relationships.
“We’ll do our best and try to be smart rather than being able to throw cash at it.”